Mystery Alcid

Mystery Alcid

I’m pretty sure this is an alcid, but I can’t figure out what it is. I saw it twice this afternoon between Crescent Harbor and the end of the runway. Looking at the beak, it seems most like a Rhinocerous Auklet, but the white at the front of the wing seems out of place. I would dismiss that as a lighting effect, but I could still see it on the bird in the later photographs (which aren’t even as good as the one seen here) in different light. It seemed to stay underwater for a long time and/or it swam a long way before surfacing. Both times I saw it dive, I was not able to see where it came up despite looking all around for at least a couple of minutes.

3 thoughts on “Mystery Alcid”

  1. Hey! I’ve been enjoying your blog as usual. It sure looks like a rhinoceros auklet to me too. Of course, you probably have a good reason to doubt that identification.


  2. Thanks for the comments.

    Paul, it’s good to hear from you. I trust you are seeing interesting stuff where you’re at.

    I’m not sure if my resaon for doubt was a good one, but it’s perhaps an understandable one. I’ve never had a really good look at Rhinocerous Auklets, in fact this was only the second time I had seen one in winter, so I’m not all that familiar with the range of variation in shape/plumage this species displays. What made me wonder most was the white stripe at the leading edge of the wing that doesn’t show up in Sibley’s (and did show up in my other photos, so I thought it was unlikely to be just lighting).

    Bruce, I thought I would add that I got an e-mail from someone who had done surveys around the causeway (which is close to where I saw this bird) last year. She said Rhinocerous Auklets were consistently observed at that time, so perhaps there are a few of them that spend their winters here.


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